He Beat a Minor Roman God
Over 2,000 years ago there lived an athlete known as Leonidas of Rhodes. Leonidas competed in four successive Olympiads in 164 BC, 160BC, 156BC, and 152BC, winning three different foot races in each of these.
An Olympic athlete who won three events at a single Olympics was called a triastes—there have only been seven triastes, and Leonidas is the only one known to have won the honor more than once.
The three races Leonidas partook in were the stadion, a sprint of about 200m, the diaulos, which was a sprint of 400m, and the hoplitodromos—a race in full, heavy armor. To the amazement of all, Leonidas won all of these, one after another.
After his death, Leonidas was worshipped as a local diety, and a statue was constructed in his image, displaying his legend: “He had the speed of a God”. In the end, he had earned 12 individual Olympic titles.
Phelps has just broken the record Leonidas set all those centuries ago, retiring with an incredible 13 individual titles.
Perhaps it’s time for another statue.